Wonder and Worry

One of the things that I hear asked most frequently is about what  a story needs in order to succeed. The best answer I’ve heard was at a panel at a convention (but I can’t remember when or where or who said it… eek!) when this mysterious person proclaimed that all stories only need two things:

Worry and Wonder

It made so much sense to me that I wondered how in the world did I ever try to answer that question before. It’s such a simple, succinct and perfect answer, and sometimes the big questions need those simple answers.

A reader needs to worry about the characters, and the world they’re involved with. If there’s no problem, no trouble brewing then what is there to worry about? What reason is there to keep turning the page? Your characters need to have real things at risk. I don’t just mean oh no, little Timmy forgot his lunch and will be hungry. That’s not enough of a worry. Something needs to be in serious danger, whether it’s someone’s life, home, happiness, etc. It needs to be something lasting.

Now wonder is the other critical piece. The reader needs to be curious about what is going to happen next, where the story is going, and how these problems are going to be resolved. Every word needs to be serving the purpose of moving the story and building that sense of wonder for the reader, keep them engaged, curious, and involved and you will have them for your entire story.



  1. Laura W. Said:

    “What does a story need in order to succeed?”

    I think this question is so hard to answer because people have so many conflicting views on what “success” is.

    • Andi Judy Said:

      Very good point! It’s similar to the problem of answering the question of calling oneself a writer. Different people have different ideas of what constitutes that.

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